Can digital nomad visas enable us to work from anywhere…?

Businesses need to prepare for international remote working, argues KRISTIAN TORODE

THE CONCEPT of digital nomads isn’t exactly new — but a recent visa trend has made the process much easier.

When combined with the right communications technology, digital nomad visas have the potential to enable long-term remote working.

Woman working remotely on a laptop, digital nomad visas illustration
Many nations have started to recognise the move to remote working. Photo: Asmiana/

The pandemic made remote working the norm for many. For digital nomads, nothing much changed. Working remotely, and internationally, has been difficult. Most digital nomads travel on a tourist visa, meaning that their stay in any nation is limited. But what about those who want to stay in one place for a longer period?

Many nations have started to recognise the move to remote working, and “digital nomad visas” are on the rise. One of the first countries to offer a long-term remote working visa was Barbados, with the launch of the Barbados Welcome Stamp in 2020, enabling digital nomads to stay for a year or longer. Other countries followed suit. It’s now possible to obtain similar visas for Bermuda, Costa Rica, Estonia, Croatia and the UAE.

Government travel policies are changing, meaning that living the nomadic lifestyle is a feasible option — as long as other travel restrictions aren’t in place. For businesses looking to adopt a true work-from-anywhere (WFA) policy and allow their employees to take advantage of overseas opportunities, a comprehensive communications system is vital.

When establishing a global communication system that ensures effective collaboration over different locations, traditional options are not fit for purpose. Fixed phones are not a sufficient contact method, and businesses looking for cost-efficient, reliable communication need a model that allows their employees to be reached anywhere, at any time.

Tech advances have sparked the growth of unified communications (UC). Integrating all forms of communication — phone, instant messaging, video conferencing, email and SMS — into one solution, UC systems aim to optimise business operations and increase employee productivity, according to research by International Data Group.

Barbados, view from villa
The Barbados Welcome Stamp enables digital nomads to stay for a year or longer

Equipping employees with portable hardware — smartphone, laptop, tablet — and a secure, reliable internet connection allows access to many of the major communication platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Outlook. When designing a voice solution, things get more complex.

Making international calls using the mobile phone network can be an expensive option. Even if a business takes advantage of the international calls packages that most mobile networks offer, a more cost-efficient solution is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

VoIP uses the internet to make and take calls from anywhere. Unlike traditional calls, which transmit speech via electric signals, VoIP converts the audio into data packets and transmits them to the phone network via the internet. Operational costs won’t be hit by international or lengthy calls.

Standard VoIP requires comprehensive on-premises infrastructure, but a hosted solution can prove more cost-effective. By using a cloud-based IP platform, hosted VoIP performs at the same level, regardless of geographical location.

By installing a UC system, business operations become geographically mobile, presenting opportunities for employers and employees alike. As borders reopen, employees can make long-term international remote working a reality. Employers equipped with a futureproofed system, can access the best of the global talent for new hires.

Kristian Torode is director and co-founder of business communications services provider Crystaline